How to resolve the mess of Education Bill 86
I had a very interesting experience last week. As the Chairman of the Coalition For the Future of English Education in Québec, known as COFFEE-Québec, I was invited to appear before the Committee on Culture and Education of the National Assembly of Québec.
I mistakenly understood that my job last Tuesday was to introduce Dr. Richard Y. Bourhis, (Professor at the Universitè de Québec a Montrèal) who is the researcher on the decline of the English school system in Québec - (numbers-wise, that is).
To my surprise, the new Minister of Education, Sébastien Proulx, was seated at the committee table. I was expecting his parliamentary assistant, David Birnbaum ,MNA for the Darcy McGee riding, to be there as he is a member of the committee. Instead, it was the minister himself. I thought to myself, "This may be interesting."
The Committee on Culture and Education has thirteen members from the National Assembly – seven Liberal, four PQ, and two CAQ members. West Quebec is well represented by Liberals André Fortin (Pontiac), Alexandre Iracà (Papineau) and Marc Carriere (Chapleau).
After five Education Ministers in the last two years – Malavoy, Bolduc, Blais, Moreau and now Proulx, perhaps it is time to realistically survey the situation in schools in Quebec. Are you ready for my analysis? The nine English school boards lead the surrounding educational jurisdictions (including the French school boards) in success rates and final results in ministerial examinations, and drop-out rates.
How can we quickly deal with the Bill 86 quagmire? Me. Proulx – hire me for forty-eight hours as your gunslinger. And here is the plan: Withdraw Bill 86; it was the creation of Francois Blais, anyways.
1. Amend section 143 of the Education Act so that school board councils of commissioners have a total of six parent commissioners (up from four);
2. Amend section 148 of the Education Act so that all six parent commissioners have the same rights, powers and obligations (including the right to vote) as elected commissioners;
3. Un-repeal “An Act respecting school elections”, and amend its title and the corresponding sections so that they read “An Act respecting English school elections”.
As Alexandre Cloutier, the PQ education critic and MNA for Lac-Saint-Jean, asked last Tuesday, can the English school boards be treated differently than the French school boards? My answer was clearly “Hell Yes – Why Not!” When we examine section 73 of the Charter of the French Language (better known as Bill 101), we clearly see that Anglophone parents have more rights than Francophone parents. Add into this mix: Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms dealing with the management and control of minority language schools (re: Mahe v. Alberta).
Dr. Couillard and Me. Proulx, the English school system is quite fine just the way it is. The saying is: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Why not follow this sage advice!